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Cloud-Based Architecture for Farm Management

Mariana Mocanu, Valentin Cristea, Catalin Negru, Florin Pop, Vlad Ciobanu and Ciprian Dobre
Computer Science Department, University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania
Email: mariana.mocanu@cs.pub.ro, valentin.cristea@cs.pub.ro, catalin.negru@cs.pub.ro,
florin.pop@cs.pub.ro, vlad.ciobnanu@cs.pub.ro, ciprian.dobre@cs.pub.ro

Abstract—Cloud Computing technologies can fundamentally possible due to the confluence of a few factors: the increased
contribute to business processes in agriculture, through enhancing performance of the hardware devices, wireless connectivity
traditional farm management systems, by integrating processes having spectacular performances and the possibility to control
like, monitoring, operation farm management, with cloud specific a wide range of simple and cheap devices with the aid of
capabilities, which will lead to an increased productivity. Based intelligent processes running in Cloud [2] [7]. In Internet of
on this idea we propose, in this paper, a cloud-based architecture
Things in 2020 A Roadmap for the Future [8], IoT is described
that helps creating an integrated intelligent system for improving
product quality and business development in the farms field. as a “network composed of things/objects which have identi-
Farmers cloud access diverse set of information and data related ties, virtual personalities which operates in intelligent spaces
to his farm, in an integrated and unified approach in order to and use intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate with
take informed decisions or to be supported in decision taking users having various environmental and social contexts”.
process.
The greenhouse is considered a complex system where
Keywords—Cloud Services, Workflow Coordination, Intelligent physical characteristics such as soil humidity (decisive aspect
Systems, Interoperability, Farm Management System, Data Storage, in the plant development), the crop’s type, soil type, season,
Natural Resource Management. geographical location, are monitored through Cloud accessible
services, and after the processing of the information, the in
I. I NTRODUCTION situ elements are controlled. The processing is represented by
Cloud accessible software services which consider economical
E-services allowed transition from the punctual processes efficiency, ergonomic aspects at the farmer’s work place or the
approach, in agriculture, in which each process was treated influence that other system or adjacent phenomena could man-
isolated, to the integrated approach, that allows the unified ifest (climatic, hydrological, specific data access, laws, etc).
management of all processes. In this context, the agricultural The classical directions to act, implemented at the moment
greenhouse can be treated as a complex system, in which both in Romania and internationally aim to give solutions for
soil moisture, a decisive factor in plant growth is correlated the automation of the agricultural activities and services for
with technical factors (other measured measures, type of the business development in agriculture and related domains.
crop, soil type, season, geographical location), with economic
efficiency and the ergonomics of the farmers workplace or the Cloud became more attractive and easy to use for everyone
influences of other adjacent systems and phenomena (climatic, and people became more familiar with Cloud environments.
hydrological, access to expertise, legal regulations, etc.). Besides, Cloud computing means resilience, confidentiality,
secure identities, interoperability and safe electronic services
The overall objective of the proposed solution in this paper for data and documents. This is an adequate environment for
is to create an intelligent, integrated, cloud services-based data storage, aggregation and retrieval, available anytime and
system, using advanced computer technology, automation and everywhere. If the potential offered by Clouds is exploited
communications to increase product quality and business de- for citizens it will be possible to have Cloud computing
velopment in the area of farming. The specific objective is to support for an enabled cost-effective interaction with different
create an integrated control system for controlling the process services, in our case with farm management systems and with
in greenhouse crop production, using the services available on e-Government services [1].
mobile devices.
In present, adding dedicated access to the underlying
The problems that farmers are facing with can be described infrastructure through a specific APIs offering possibilities to
as follow: control of environments variables (humidity, temper- run application on the Cloud (see Figure 1). That means in
ature, ventilation, etc.), at plot scale, depending on the crop the same way power, control, and efficiency. Clouds are most
type; improvement of working conditions for employees due often serving developers or businesses, or Large Enterprises
to the remote control; risk reduction due to centralized and as a new way to host applications. These applications are
permanent control; collaborative virtual space for the persons usually delivered to client PCs or PC-like smart phones or
involved directly or indirectly; supporting various business other type of devices. In [5] consider the case where the clients
categories related with green house growing by using the e- are highly mobile, very interactive, and very functional. There
services available on the created platform. are explored the resultant needed capabilities of such a cloud,
and concluded that a very rich Cloud Computing platform, far
The integrated tackling of both business perspectives is beyond the capabilities of todays system, would be required to
sustained from an IT&C point of view by the concept Internet support such a large collection of mobile and fixed devices [6].
of Things (IoT) [3]. This concept was first introduced in
1999 but the intensification of the implementation efforts was The integration between Cloud Computing and farm man-
agement systems will generate products and services which systems. Are specified limitations such as handling of vast
can be immediately used. Several examples are: numbers of networked devices and complex integration of
different systems and services which are developed by different
• Cloud platform, as a support for services based on the players. As a response to these limitations few research ini-
specific ontology of the agricultural activities and of tiatives were launched, and one important example is “Future
the related ones; Internet” program launched by the European Commission.
• The intelligent system to control the activities in A step further is made by the authors of [10], which
the green house (monitoring and in situ respectively propose a cloud-based farm management system. They propose
remote control); a fundamental change in considering the farm management
• Humidity sensor, based on an original solution; systems which currently are proprietary and monolithic, to
open systems that are Internet-based and cloud hosted which
• E-services package designed for: (i) the configuration will facilitate the collaboration between stakeholders. An im-
of green house plots to allow differentiate handling portant limitation that is imposed by this model is represented
of soil based upon the crop type; (ii) information by the management of personal data or sensitive data about
and instruction of the farmer about the most suitable plant farms and privacy protection.
methods/tools/techniques for growing various crops;
(iii) commercial advertising for providers of specific
equipment and materials (seeds, fertilizers, tools for
green house, etc); (iv) linking with central/local ad-
ministration to realize efficient and fast information
about laws/settlements or other relevant situations for
farmers; (v) interoperability with other e-platforms
for natural resources monitoring (meteorological, hy-
drological, pollution), with the aim of undertaking
alerts/warning messages.
We presented in this section the overall objective, the
problems that farmers are facing with, existing solutions for
farm management systems, a perspective of Cloud Computing,
IoT and SOA that will be used in architecture design and the
integration between Cloud Computing and farm management
systems. The rest of the paper presents the related work and
limitations in Section II and the Cloud-Based Architecture for
Farm Management in Section III. The conclusion and future
development direction are presented in Section IV.

II. R ELATED WORK AND LIMITATIONS


The authors of [14], conclude that production management
and operation must develop in order to keep up with the new
demands of increasing scale. Information technology is the
driving factor along with the development of Internet, cloud
computing, wireless sensor networks and so on. So, we must
use information technology in order to improve the production,
management and operation level in farms.
In [13] the authors argue that, the application of Cloud
Computing and Internet of Things in agriculture moderniza-
tion, will solve the problem of farmers in China. Moreover,
visualization, SOA, RFID, technologies can help in realization
of an plan factory that is completely automatized. However
is hard to achieve a perfect combination of them in order to
obtain fast development of agricultural modernization.
An automatic control of farming operations, based on spa-
tial web services is presented in [12]. The authors developed Fig. 1. ClueFarm: Cloud-Based Architecture for Farm Management
a task controller (TC) prototype with an ISOBUS-compatible
process data messages able to use external web services. Lim-
itations are related to standardization and automation methods III. C LOUD -BASED A RCHITECTURE FOR FARM
for a compliant management. For example in situations where M ANAGEMENT
circumstances change or are dependent on the specific location.
The general architecture of the proposed system consists
The authors of [11] address the shortcomings in the usage of two important parts, strictly delimitated by the physical lo-
of Internet of Things in management and operation of farm cation where they lay (see Figure 1): the cloud farm controller
(CFC) and the local farm controller (LFC). The two controllers
have two separate running modes, isolated and interconnected.
When a farm controller is isolated from the cloud controller, it
will still continue to fulfill its purpose and it will also allow the
user to control it via a local area connection, without the need
of Internet connection. The second running mode starts with
the presumption that the local farm connector is connected to
the Internet, and therefore data to and from the cloud farm
controller is synchronized, thus allowing the user to remote
control the LFC, without any physical restriction, as long as
the user is connected to the Internet.
The design is based on Service-Oriented Architecture
(SOA). SOA facilitates provision of compound services cov-
ering whole customer processes, where a customer may be
either a citizen or an enterprise. Compound services encom-
pass: integrated services composed of e-services provided by
different administrative units; mix services composed of e-
services provided by both administrative and business units;
value-added services e-business services built on top of exiting
cloud-based architecture [4].

A. Local Farm Controller (LFC)


Being located in the farm premises, the local farm con-
troller provides at-site data collection and control. As shown
in Figure 2, the local farm controller consists of three major
subsystems: data storage systems, external connectors and as
main core, the farm workflow process manager. The main
responsibility of the LFC is to execute the preconfigured farm
workflows and to provide access to live and historical data.
Fig. 2. The Local Farm Controller (LFC)
B. Cloud Farm Controller (CFC)
The Cloud Farm Controller (see Figure 3) plays the role of
a central authority that allows data aggregation between farms,
farm control from the Internet, integration with other external
services (maps, weather, etc.).

C. Architecture Components
Data Storage Services. Stored in a relational database, the
available data is:
• Sensor data (temperature, humidity, etc.)
• Workflow information data (results, status, etc.)
• Command history data (commands sent to the actua-
tors, etc.)
Cloud Data Connector and Cloud Sync Service. The main
role of the Cloud Data Connector is to provide means to
make local farm data available for synchronization with the
Cloud Farm Controller via the Cloud Sync Service. The Cloud
Sync Service assures data security by using encrypted ways of
communication (https) and authentication.
Fig. 3. The Cloud Farm Controller
Farm Workflow Process Manager. The Farm Workflow
Process Manager is the main core the LFC and allows pre-
configured workflows to be executed, via services.
The Local Mobile App Connector allows the user to
Local Website Connector. The local website allows the connect to the system by using the WLAN located in the
user to configure and control the LFC. Local Mobile App farm by using the mobile application by sharing the following
Connector. information and control messages:
Fig. 4. Production Management Application

• Displays the farm status information: temperature, • It is configurable from the Configuration Service or
humidity, etc; directly from external entities (e.g., farmers, equip-
ment manufacturers) since it allows them to install
• Displays workflow information: current step, future knowledge in the form of pre-defined rules.
actions, etc;
• Alerts the user via notifications; Developer API. The developer API allows other program-
mers to implement new applications that interact with the
• Allows manual actions to be run: open window, start CLUeFARM system.
the irrigation system, etc.
Service Managements and Connectors offer the possibility
Data Collection External Connector and Commands Ex- to interact and integrate with different external services, like:
ternal Connector. These modules allow data retrieval from Weather Service, Geo-Spatial Services, Advisory Services,
the PLC and commands being sent to the PLC via the serial Advertisement, Social Networking, e-Banking and e-Payment,
protocol. etc. We consider here: XML Service Workflow, Collaborative
Configuration Service A configuration service is used to Service Workflow and SOAP / REST connectors.
define the workflows, users and other miscellaneous cus-
tomizations.
D. Business Level
Notification Service All notifications that are forwarded to
the user are controlled by the notification service. On the top of Cloud-based architecture presented in pre-
vious section, different applications can be developed, like:
Execution Service. This service is used for actions that can
Farm Analytics, Real Time Recommendation, Social Network
be executed automatically (e.g. open the windows, start the
Analysis, Opinion Making External Collaboration with other
ventilation system, initiate a firmware update, etc.). For those
Farms, Production Management Applications, Farm History,
actions that cannot or the farmer wishes not to be executed
etc. The application layer can be viewed as business layer
automatically, the Notification Service is responsible to inform
level because at this level a farmer needs to monitor the crop
the farmer with the appropriate information.
and machinery, and in case there are some out of the ordinary
Coordination Service has the following functions: events, there is a need to come up with a correction plan and
implement appropriate actions.
• Cloud Data Connector and Cloud Sync Service and
handle simple situations (e.g., temperature increase The workflow of Production Management Application is
inside a greenhouse) having the capability to automat- presented in Figure 4. All components that describe the appli-
ically send different action to Execution Service. cation flow are interconnected with Cloud Farm Controller. As
we presented in the previous section, the interconnection can
• Coordinates the decisions reached by services the be done directly with Local Farm Controller. The Production
farmer is currently using; Management Application consists in 3 main components (Pro-
• Responsible for conflict resolution among external or duction Monitoring, Production Plan Action and Implement
internal services; Action) and 2 Alerts modules (Production Alerts and Failure
Alerts). The execution of this type of workflow can be executed
• Triggers the Execution service and the Notification under a hybrid algorithm for workflow scheduling in Cloud-
Service; Based cyberinfrastructures, solution proposed in [9].
IV. E XPERIMENTAL A NALYSIS
To conduct our experiments, we zipped different chunk
of data receive from a temperature sensor from 1KK up to
128MB then uploaded it to and downloaded it from Google
Drive, SkyDrive, Amazon S3, Dropbox and a private HDFS.
We performed each set of uploads and downloads 8 times and
took the average, conducting our testing over the course of five
business days (this aspect is not important for HDFS cluster).
Each test was performed using the latest version of the
Safari browser with a medium speed Ethernet connection to
a national ISP, which typically averages 57.2 Mbps down and
14.8 Mbps up on Speedtest.net.
Fig. 7. Average Upload/Download Time (s) for different filesize (KB) for
HDFS.

Figure 7 shows the comparison between the uploading and


downloading speed for files of different sizes, where we can
observe that copying files from local to HDFS is much faster
than vice-versa.

Fig. 5. Average Upload/Download Speed (MB/s) for different Cloud Storage


Providers.

Figure 5 presents the average upload/download speed


(MB/s) for different Cloud storage providers. HDFS has a
higher speed (both up and down) because it is installed on
a local cluster. Amazon S3 and Google Drive have similar
performance, and SkyDrive and Dropbox offer different per-
formance for up and down speed.
Fig. 8. Average putObject/getObject Time (s) for different filesize (KB) for
Amazon S3.

The graph in Figure 8 illustrates a comparison between the


transfer time (measured in seconds) obtained by each program
running on client data set generated for Amazon S3. Based on
the obtained results it can be seen that during read operations
is significantly lower than that of writing as the size of the
transferred object increases.
Figure 9 presents average upload/download time (s) for
different filesize (KB) for Google Drive. It can be seen that
after 512 KB, the upload time grows proportional to the
size. There seem to be little deviations from this rule. The
downloading speed grows slowly for files us to 1024KB and
after that it approximately doubles for each file increase. It can
Fig. 6. Total transfer time for performed experiments for different Cloud be observed that upload speeds are approximately five times
Storage Providers. slower that download speeds. The medium speed connection
we have tested the the pro- gram is rated at 20 mbps and
Figure 6 present the total task time, which means total the speed have improved. The times are even less than double
transfer time for performed experiments. We present this because this connection seems to be more reliable and achieves
results in ascending order. This results confirm again that a higher speeds when connecting to Google Servers. On this
local HDFS cluster has better global performance. On the other connection download speeds are also faster than upload speeds
hand, the total overhead is 25%, which can be acceptable for although they are similar to the times obtained when manually
low speed process, like processed performed in a farm or in a uploading to Drive. Uploading is approximately three times
greenhouse. slower than downloading.
have to purchase only sensors that will be positioned in the
appropriate places and actuators for watering and for accessing
the services he will subscribe to the web service, which in turn
will provide information in the desired format and will drive
the watering equipment.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The research presented in this paper is supported by project
clueFarm: Information system based on cloud services acces-
sible through mobile devices, to increase product quality and
business development farms - PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4-0870.
We would like to thank the reviewers for their time and
Fig. 9. Average Upload/Download Time (s) for different filesize (KB) for expertise, constructive comments and valuable insight.
Google Drive.
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